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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Sight hope for babies

Ranchi, April 28: Three of the four visually-challenged babies delivered at Chatro (Giridih) during the past five months have fair chances of gaining eyesight, said doctors who examined them here today. One of them is destined to grow up complete visually challenged, they said, because the eyeballs have not been formed.

Reacting to a report in The Telegraph, health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi and health secretary Nidhi Khare had arranged for the babies to be brought to Kashyap Eye Hospital here. The infants and their mothers were accompanied by a team from the Giridih sadar hospital led by additional chief medical officer Hemlal Hansda.

Accusing fingers have been raised at sponge iron plants that have mushroomed in the area. The Telegraph had reported that ponds were drying up, trees had stopped bearing fruits, the soil was turning barren and four visually-challenged babies delivered in a single village appeared too much of a coincidence.

Sahi, who drove to the hospital to see the babies, said he had ordered an inquiry and called for a report within three days. He promised harsh action in case health officials or the pollution control board officials are found to have been negligent.

Ophthalmologist Bharati Kashyap found one of the children to be suffering from acute deficiency of vitamin A while two other children had no eyeballs in one of the sockets. “There is no treatment for non-formation of eyeballs. But the other babies can be treated so that they are able to see with at least one eye,” she said.

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